How do I do a dressage warm up in the cold?
I was just wondering if you have any hints as to keeping a horse warm (equipment wise and exercise wise) whilst doing a warm up. My friend and I got accepted into the Interschool State Championships for dressage, which is being held in Warwick, Australia, in the middle of winter (in a few days actually). Warwick, for anyone who doesn't know, is pretty darn cold for those of us who are used to 25 Degrees Celcius + days.
I would love love love some ideas as to keeping warm. My horse is a 20 year old TB gelding who still has his winter coat and really feels the cold. I can't do a lot of canter work in the warm-up as he becomes extremely nervous/excited/tense in the test and it kills all our walk work. I was thinking of warming up in a light summer rug that's been modified into a exercise sheet.
My friend's horse is a younger StockHorse X TB who has been recently clipped and feels the cold. My friend is really worried that Ollie will get too cold before her test. She competes Elementary so wants him really warmed up and supple.
So any tips on keeping warm would be great! Cheers :-)
I live in southern NSW so it gets pretty cold here (I totally envy your 25 degree days) today it is 4.5 degrees at midday!! Anyways, in terms of warming up and staying warm I would just add about 15-20 minutes to your normal warm up. I will normally do 5 minutes walking and then 10-20 minutes of long-rein trotting, then maybe a canter to warm up before doing any collected work. Then to keep warm, make sure you don't stand around, keep walking. Once you have finished riding, walk your horse out really well (10 minutes) untack and brush off as quickly as possible and put rugs on. You shouldn't need an exercise rug to warm up, but a woolen or polar fleece or doona rug afterwards would be good. And aalso, keep yourself warm!! wear plenty of layers under your riding gear and I find that hiking thermals are really great under jodhpurs! And congrats for getting accepted into the interschool!
Thanks Boxer =] I'll try adding some more time to his warm up. Hiking thermals? Hmm, I've heard some people talk about them and I'll definately take that advice on board!
I agree. What we do when we need to warm up in the cold is just add more time. Walk and trot on a loose rein for awhile, then pick them up when they start to feel loose and in a good mindset. Have someone close by to hold a coat for you if you need it!
And definatly congrats! I don't know what interschools is(up here in the states! :P) but it sounds pretty prestigious! Good luck!
I throw my horses Quarter Sheet on when it is cold, that way, when the muscles are warmed up, they remain warmed a bit longer with the Quarter Sheet on, than they would without.
For me, I wear Winter Thermals, because I find I sweat when I am riding, and the Thermals absorb the sweat so that I don't get a cold chill when I cool off. I buy the one's that wick my sweat.
With the Quarter Sheet, I have the one that drapes over my legs and my horses sides and rump - keeps up both warm.
Then when it is time to ride, I just take it off and hang it up on a standard or a bench. When I am done my ride, I throw it back on until I am called apon again.
i would get a quarter sheet, or you could just put a fleece blanket under your saddle for warm up. especially for the horse that is clipped ! also a lot of slow trot at the beginning of your ride. walking around a lot wont help warm your horse too much when it is cold.
Thanks everyone! =] Sounds like one thing... Shopping spree! haha. I'll come up with a plan to add the extra time to my warm up. I'm thinking lots of transitions, even a bit of shoulder-in or leg yeild and long trot/short trot transitions.
Stretches for the horse!
I do stretches with all my horses before I get on. It's helpful for finding tension and loosening muscles, as well as getting a great start in the warm-up. That way, you can spend less time trying to loosen the horse up and getting blood into cold muscles, and more time working on what needs to be worked on!
You can do these stretches in the barn aisle, by the trailer, where ever.
Remember, always let the horse hold the stretch for as long as he feels comfortable with it. Don't force a stretch, because it defeats the purpose of the stretch in the first place and only causes tension or hyperextension.
I like you ideas about transitions, transitions within gaits, and lateral work. Also remember variations in the horse's frame, too, such as long-low. And figures! Lots and lots of figures, and transitions within them. My sister often tells me, "I don't want to you in a single pace for more than ten seconds or in a straight line for more than two unless you and your horse deserve it!"
Quarters sheets are great ;)
As for the warmup, give yourself an hour before your test, walk, walk, walk and walk. Walk on a long rein, let him stretch right down into it, do some shallow leg yields and biiig circles, loorse walk-halt-walk transitions etc. For about 15-20 minutes. The longer the you, the more of a chance you're giving his tendons to warm up, avoid sharp turns, abrupt transitions and steep lines for the first 25 minutes if you can. Once you've walked him out nicely, start trot, again on a long rein, allowing him to reach into the contact, and same work as in walk, biiig circles, shallow leg yields and loose trot-walk-trot transitions. THEN you can start bringing him up more into a competition frame and begin your sharper transitions and sharper lines ;)
Thanks Kayty and dressagexlee =] Those are great ideas. I really appreciate that you've given time amounts in your advice Kayty - I often get stuck on one thing when I'm warming up (as do most young riders around here.. I try not to trot around in mindless circles constantly though..) and it's good now in that I can say to myself "Ok, I've done my 15min of loose walking stuff, I must move on".
I used to do stretches similar to that on my eventer when he was a bit sore and it never occured to me to use them on Barcoo for his warmup! I love what your sister tells you dressagexlee, and I think I'll definately be using that advice for a loooooooong time haha. And don't worry haha, I won't force a stretch, it will more likely be Barcoo forcing me to let him stretch (I rather regret teaching him long and low - he enjoys it too much!).
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